Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    Plasma Cell Neoplasms (Including Multiple Myeloma) Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview


    Biologic therapy

    Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.

    Immunomodulators are a type of biologic therapy. Thalidomide, lenalidomide, and pomalidomide are immunomodulators used to treat multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms.

    Interferon is a type of biologic therapy. It affects the division of cancer cells and can slow tumor growth.

    See Drugs Approved for Multiple Myeloma and Other Plasma Cell Neoplasms for more information.

    Radiation therapy

    Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.


    Surgery to remove the tumor may be done and is usually followed by radiation therapy. Treatment given after the surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy.

    Watchful waiting

    Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient's condition without giving any treatment until signs or symptoms appear or change.

    New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

    This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

    New combinations of therapies

    Clinical trials are studying different combinations of biologic therapy, chemotherapy, steroid therapy, and drugs. New treatment regimens using thalidomide or lenalidomide are also being studied.

    Supportive care is given to lessen the problems caused by the disease or its treatment.

    This therapy controls problems or side effects caused by the disease or its treatment, and improves quality of life. Supportive care is given to treat problems caused by multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    man holding lung xray
    What you need to know.
    stem cells
    How they work for blood cancers.
    woman wearing pink ribbon
    Separate fact from fiction.
    Colorectal cancer cells
    Symptoms, screening tests, and more.
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    what is your cancer risk
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    prostate cancer overview
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    Actor Michael Douglas